The Coolpix 8800 is an advanced camera, at which thoughts have been given as how a certain camera can be carried around easily. The 10x optical zoom is no obstacle in keeping the camera compact and doesn't reveal the impressive lens the camera is equipped with. The ED optics are combined with an innovative and very useful function namely the Vibration Reduction. The Coolpix 8800's beautiful black housing is compact however; its predecessor, the Coolpix 8700 is somewhat smaller concerning its volume. But on the other hand the Coolpix 8800 is equipped with a new impressive 10x optical zoom lens with built-in anti-shake system. The large optical lens gives the camera an impressive appearance, still Nikon succeeded in keeping the camera compact. Compared to its predecessors, the place of diverse buttons attracts the attention. At the Coolpix 8700 some (main) functions were 'hidden' on the side of the camera, where as on the Coolpix 8800 they are replaced to the control centre, or as you wish the Mode Dial button. Personally I find this a perfect choice, functions like White balance and ISO values should be accessible quickly, directly and easily. When these functions are placed on the side of the camera I find myself turning the camera too often in order to find the right button. The side of the optical lens now offers place to functions like the handy Vibration Reduction (VR) and the button for the AF (Auto Focus) function. The Vibration Reduction is activated by sliding the button, something which can be done blind-folded.
The AF button has to be pressed to turn the Command Dial to be able to make a choice between the different AF functions. The A/C power adapter and the A/V connection, positioned next to where the strap can be attached, are neatly covered by a rubber cover.
The front of the camera is dominated by the impressive lens. Between the rubber coated handgrip and the optical zoom lens a lamp is placed which has a dual function. Firstly it shows the status of the self-timer function. Secondly the lamp is activated in poor light conditions when an assist illuminator is required to be able to focus correctly. According to the specifications this light is rather restricted, it reaches approximately 1.5 meters. Next to this lamp a microphone is found for recording sound when recording a video clip or voice memo. The optical zoom lens extends when the camera is activated and extends to the full at telephoto to retract a little when zooming to wide-angle. The lens can be equipped with diverse converters, for example to enlarge the wide-angle or telephoto range.
When we look upon the camera from the back, the right site has a handgrip. Inside this handgrip we find the memory compartment together with the battery compartment which can be opened from the bottom. A solid cover gives access to this memory compartment. Removing the memory card can be accomplished by pushing a small pin. We get access to the battery through the bottom of the camera. The compartment is covered by a small plastic lid, which can be completely removed when the optional battery grip is used. And here we find a small beauty spot. Opening the compartment the battery comes out immediately and is not kept in its place by a small pin or something else. So advisable is keeping the camera upside down or at least tilt it a little so the battery doesn’t fall out of the compartment from a severe height. Of course there is room for the universal (metal) tripod which is placed right in the centre. The perfect spot to keep the Coolpix 8800 nice and stable on the tripod.
The top side of the camera gives access to a number of buttons. In the centre we find the internal flash and above it a hot shoe to enable the use of an external flash. This can either be a Nikon flash unit or a different brand flash unit, as long as it is a so called dedicated flash. A small LCD led in between the command dial and the internal flash shows the divers settings like the amount of energy left, the aperture and shutter speeds. The command dial, well-known by now, offers place to various important setting possibilities. Settings like aperture and shutter speed, but also ISO and white balance rates can be adjusted turning the dial. Beneath the command dial on the back of the camera a handy dial is placed to adjust the various choices that can be made.
The back of the camera contains the vary-angle LCD monitor (270 degrees). A handy option we also saw on its predecessor the Coolpix 8700. The camera can be held in any shooting position by turning the monitor, to get the perfect image. The monitor can also be turned 180 degrees against the camera’s body so it'll be protected against scratching and crashing. We would prefer to find a larger monitor on a camera of this class. The Coolpix 8800 deserves at least a 2-inch sized monitor. Above the monitor we find the electronic viewfinder, equipped with a dioptre setting. Right next to the monitor there are several buttons, 7 to be precise, a command dial and a multi-functional button. The buttons give access to the menu and for example the optical or digital zoom. The location of the buttons is fine and obvious which enhances the ease of use.
The Coolpix 8800 lies comfortable and stable in one's hand. The rubber coated handgrip is obviously present and in combination with the weight of the camera it adds to the ease of carrying the camera around. The camera has a professional appearance and is designed for the advanced user. Nothing can be said to diminish the design, the camera’s quality can’t be denied!